Preparing for the MCAT? You likely know how important it is to do well. The results of your MCAT impact your acceptance to medical schools and your eligibility for scholarships and other aid. It's not an overstatement to say that doing well on the MCAT can change the course of your medical career.
Don't get too stressed, though. The good news is that there are steps you can take to prepare yourself and improve your MCAT performance. Practice is obviously important. So too is brushing up on your knowledge, especially in your weaker areas. However, it's important to have a strategy and game plan when it comes to your preparation. Below are a few tips to live by as you prepare for the MCAT.
1. Find your starting point. You may have a target score based on the schools you want to attend. However, it's important to also know your starting point, so you know how much progress you need to make and whether your goal is realistic. Before you start preparing, take a practice test under real testing time limits and conditions. There are plenty of MCAT practice tests online that will help you accomplish this. Your baseline score will let you know where you're starting from and also what areas you need to target. That will help you develop an informed practice strategy.
2. Focus on the test, not content. Knowledge is obviously important in the MCAT. However, you're not going to relearn a semester's worth of microbiology in test prep, nor should you try to. Much of the MCAT is focused on your ability to apply knowledge and use reason to find the correct answer. You can usually eliminate incorrect answers in questions just by understanding how the question was worded, even if the content area isn't your strong suit. With practice, you can learn to recognize certain question types and the most likely correct answer. Content review is important, but it should always be secondary to test practice.
3. Don't worry about speed until you hit your target score. There are two challenges with the MCAT. One is to get the score you want. The other is to finish on time. It's very difficult to practice both of those things simultaneously. Instead, start with accuracy and getting correct answers. After you establish your baseline score, work on untimed practice tests with the aim of simply hitting your target score. Once you do that, start adding in the time element and try to hit that score at a quicker rate.
Kick off your test prep by signing up for an online MCAT test preparation service. There are plenty of sites that offer practice tests, drills, and other materials that can help boost your score. For more information on taking an MCAT practice test online, contact your local tutors.